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Curtis Institute of Music faculty, renowned for training the world's finest young musicians, teach free online courses designed to enhance music engagement among audiences around the world.

The Curtis Institute of Music was the first classical music conservatory to partner with Coursera to create and distribute a massive open online course (MOOC). Since launching its first class in Fall 2013, Curtis has reached students, from teens to lifelong learners, in countries from Australia to Canada, from India to Brazil. A global community emerged as participants engaged in forum discussions about the course content and their own discoveries in classical music. Faculty directly interacted with students in online chats and live Q-and-A sessions.

From the Repertoire: Western Music History Through Performance, originally offered in Fall 2013, is running an encore session now. Class began on September 25, and you can join at any time.

The World of the String Quartet will launch in February 2015. 

Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas ran in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. Details about future offerings will be announced here.


Through October 15, Curtis is accepting applications from independent contractors to serve as Online Course Manager.


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This season's Curtis courses are sponsored by Linda Richardson in loving memory of her husband, Dr. Paul Richardson.

From the Repertoire: 

Western Music History through Performance

From the repertoire photo 

Taught by Jonathan Coopersmith and David Ludwig

During the seven-week course, learners discover the stories and techniques behind diverse compositions by watching lecture and performance videos and joining online written discussions at their convenience. They may choose to apply the lessons through multiple-choice quizzes and peer-graded assignments, as well.


Enroll now in From the Repertoire. Materials are posted weekly, September 25 through November 6. Optional assignments will extend to November 24. Watch and learn at your convenience.

Learn more about the course.

The World of the String Quartet

Aizuri Quartet photo

Arnold Steinhardt, first violin of the internationally acclaimed Guarneri String Quartet, invites music listeners to the world of the string quartet repertoire and ensemble. Journey with him and interpretive analysis instructor Mia Chung through the history and features of quartet music, colored by stories of legendary quartets and insights from the stage.

Learners will explore the history and musical ingredients of string quartets. Repertoire includes selections by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg, and Ives, among others. In addition, listeners will discover the player's perspective through legendary quartets and today's emerging artists. Throughout the course, the Aizuri Quartet, quartet-in-residence at Curtis, will explore interpretation and interaction with Mr. Steinhardt. A performance highlight is the livestream digital premiere of David Ludwig's Pale Blue Dot, performed by the Dover Quartet. 


Join the watchlist to receive an e-mail message when registration begins. The course launch is planned for February 5, 2015.

Learn more about the course.

Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas

Biss recording photo

Taught by Jonathan Biss

Watch lecture videos (approximately one hour per week) and join online written discussions. You may also take weekly multiple choice quizzes and/or complete two peer-graded assignments, if you wish. Encore sessions feature the same lecture videos as the original run of the course, with revised supplementary learning content. Jonathan Biss plans to meet with students in special gatherings both in-person and online.

Inspired after the first run of the course, Mr. Biss remarked on the "number of people who have told me, in one way or another, that being exposed to a performer’s relationship to the music he plays, with all its layers and complexities, has allowed them to hear music in a way they hadn’t been able to previously."

This course takes an inside-out look at the 32 piano sonatas from the point of view of a performer. Each lecture will focus on one sonata and an aspect of Beethoven’s music exemplified by it. (These might include: the relationship between Beethoven the pianist and Beethoven the composer; the critical role improvisation plays in his highly structured music; his mixing of extremely refined music with rougher elements; and the often surprising ways in which the events of his life influenced his compositional process and the character of the music he was writing.)

Join Coursera's watchlist to find out when the next session of Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas will begin.

Learn more about the course.


The Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation supports Curtis's lifelong learning initiatives.


In the News graphic

Philadelphia Inquirer
Ode to the joy of learning Beethoven with Biss

The Wall Street Journal

Pianist's 'Private Communion' Goes Online

BBC- Culture
Online courses: Music education for all?

The New York Times
Hey, Ludwig, There’s an App for You

WHYY (90.9 FM)/
Curtis' legendary reputation draws 25,000 to first online class 

The Telegraph
Jonathan Biss: Can the internet open up classical music to a wider audience?


Watch exclusive Curtis performances anytime, anywhere, for free. Curtis Performs features broadcast-quality HD videos of students, faculty, and alumni. 
Stream recordings of Curtis orchestra concerts, student recitals, and more. Listen now on Instant Encore or download the iPhone app.


Facebook  Twitter Join in the Curtis conversation on social media.


Laura C. Hart, senior director for digital initiatives